Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's So Ridiculous And Wonderful I Can't Come Up With A Worthy Title

I've recently gotten totally sucked into the world of KDrama, specifically Boys Over Flowers. I had heard of KDrama before - it's gaining more and more popularity internationally - but I wasn't really interested in taking part in the trend. I have an admitted addiction to teen/20something-centric, soapy TV shows, which many KDramas are, but I wasn't sure Korean shows could live up to the scandalous, melodramatic story lines I crave. But I saw Boys Over Flowers was now on Netflix Instant and I decided to give it a shot.

Oh. My. God. Koreans know their melodrama. AND HOW.

I thought the cultural differences between America and Korea would make KDrama difficult to get sucked in to, but in fact, those differences are the things I'm kvelling over the most. Allow me to share my obsession with you.

Boys Over Flowers has everything I want in a melodrama. There's a Cinderella story, a love triangle, forbidden romances, crazy plot twists (including multiple kidnappings), and good looking people. The main protagonist is Geum Jan Di, the lower-class daughter of a dry cleaner. Her adversaries (but eventual friends) and the other protagonists are F4, or the Flower 4 (Why they are called The Flower 4 is never explained. I think if I were Korean I would understand. Sadly, I am white and I don't get it). They are all very powerful and popular. When the F4 walk down the street, girls run after them crying like they're The Beatles.
Each episode is a little over an hour long, and they cram so much complicated story into that 63 or so minutes that it feels like you just watched a miniseries. You know how most shows have an A, B, and sometimes C storyline? This show has storylines A through G. Plus, the stories are CRAZY.

One thing this KDrama is missing is sex. There's not really even kissing. They kiss like cartoons, where they put their closed mouths together and don't move. Why is this? I don't know. I haven't googled it yet. Even without hot smooching action, I've become completely invested in Jan Di and Jun Pyo's love story. Jun Pyo essentially kidnaps Jan Di multiple times, and he's a whiny, spoiled baby, yet I want them to be in love and together forever. Jun Pyo is basically a whinier Logan Echolls - he's a jerk, but he has a sensitive side that he only shows Jan Di. But they've only kissed (cartoon kissed) like five times over the course of over 20 episodes. At one point Jun Pyo shows up at Jan Di's house, spends the night sleeping on the floor with her whole family, then goes to the public bathhouse with her dad and brother. That's pretty up close and personal considering at that point he hadn't even kissed her ONCE.
Jan Di has odd courtship methods as well. She makes multiple presents for Jun Pyo, and all of them are some depiction of his face. HIS FACE.
Maybe these two things are on the up and up in Korea. I admittedly know nothing about Korean culture.  Since I've never watched any other KDramas, I frequently have no idea whether this show is being normal or wackadoo. It's also interesting that the main feature that makes Jan Di's creations resemble Jun Pyo is the curly hair. They make a big deal about his curly hair, but to me it looks like they curled his hair with a curling iron and didn't bother to shake out the curls to make them look remotely natural. Even so, he's still super attractive (and apparently a Ghetto Hunk).

There's also a great scene where Yi Jung comforts/flirts with Ga Eul by (completely out of the blue, mind you) going onstage at a nightclub and playing a smooth jazz saxophone solo. Naturally this made me do a spit-take, fall over, and proceed to lose my mind. This has to be universally cornball, no matter what country you're from, right?
So three members of F4 have love interests (Ji Hoo is also in love with Jan Di, because no drama is complete without a love triangle), but what about the fourth member, Woo Bin? He has no storyline, really. BUT he has a habit of using English words like "Yo" and "bro" in a pretty thick accent. (This video calls it Engrish, but since he's pronouncing everything properly I have to disagree with them.)It always sounds odd and out of place and I cannot possibly get enough of it.

Another thing that I find a bit confusing is the sexual orientation of the "master" of the porridge shop Jan Di and Ga Eul work in. Every time I see him I think, "Is he supposed to be a kooky gay guy, or is he just part of some cultural subset that to me seems kinda gay?" Later in the series he calls himself a "flower boy" and hits on Ji Hoo, so I'm pretty sure he's straight up gay.
And really, it's the hetero F4 boys that dress like high fashion homosexuals.
Oh, does that background look familiar? It's because it's an EXACT replica of The Venetian in Las Vegas. I knew there was a Venetian in Macau, but I was not prepared for this. This totally weirded me out at first, but really, why wouldn't they just build the same resort on the other side of the world? That's just good business.

Speaking of things that are exactly the same, the soundtrack of the show is five songs that they use over and over again. They get stuck in your head so fast that before you know it you're downloading all the songs and listening to them and singing along, even though you only know the few words in each song that are in English.

Not that I did that or anything.

At least one of the songs is performed by SS501, a Korean boy band fronted by Kim Hyun Joong, who plays Ji Hoo. That's right, the Korean Justin Timberlake is one of the F4. I have no idea if that's a valid comparison, but in my imagination it totally is. Naturally, I looked into SS501, and what I found was almost as fantastic as Boys Over Flowers itself. SS501 is pronounced "double S five oh one" and stands for Super Star, Singer, and the five band members uniting as one. And that's just scratching the surface. The SS501 Wikipedia page is so full of fantastic facts, I could write a whole post on it alone. (Like how they have a music video that is an exact reenactment of The Backstreet Boys' "As Long As You Love Me" video.)

If you watch the show (which obviously you should), you'll soon realize that I'm barely scratching the surface with these observations. So many things happen in just one episode, and this long-ass post is my edited version. I didn't even mention the (comically) elaborate plot to kidnap Jan Di, or how the ShinHwa students once knocked Jan Di off her bike and then set her bike on fire. I only have three episodes of the show left, and I'm already in mourning. But I guess that just means that I'll have to move on to the next KDrama, and you can bet if it's as bananas as Boys Over Flowers I'm not going to be able to shut up about it.

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